How to Host Engaging Hybrid Events with Graphic Recording
Across the country, states are in various stages of reopening for business while trying to keep citizens safe. No sector is more focused on these efforts than the conferences and events industry.
The last few months have undoubtedly been a precarious time for event planners. The next few could well define their success moving forward. The big question is how do you plan a conference, convention, or trade show for a post COVID-19 world? For many, the answer is to design hybrid events.
Most events in Q2 2020 were postponed, and many were outright cancelled. Some successfully converted into entirely digital events, but now, all event planners face the same challenge: reimagining large group gatherings for a hybrid crowd of virtual and in-person attendees.
ImageThink has been supporting large-scale events in person and online for over a decade, including through the global pandemic, and we can help ensure physical and virtual attendees alike enjoy rich, engaging, visual experiences.
Differentiate Your Conference, Convention, or Hybrid Event
People remember when something is unique. And a unique quality or moment in turn generates word of mouth and repeat attendees. It’s difficult to create those moments in person, more difficult online, and more difficult still to find something that will work for both your in-person audience and a crowd at home.
Finding the right balance means creating scalable, show-stopping interactive elements that engage on screens from 12” to 12’.
ImageThink Social Listening Murals are one way immediately engage visitors as they walk through the doors or log in online with a central thematic question. Utilizing a dedicated conference app, virtual conference chat function, or best yet, a social media hashtag, users around the world can chime in, and watch as their answers are illustrated digitally in-real-time. The resulting mural is valuable as a follow up to attendees virtual and live, and also serves as a strong promotional tool for next year’s event. We can also create a time-lapse recording of the mural’s creation that can be shared with attendees or publicly in marketing materials.
Graphic recording can also bring new life to keynote presentations, fireside chats, and panels for both in-person attendees and online viewers. Complementary to your speaker’s content, rather than distracting graphics or elements, a graphic recorder will synthesize and illustrate key concepts and discussion points live on a screen that can be projected anywhere.
For sensitive information, or for planners concerned about relying on live scribing, ImageThink can pre-render the notes through a series of preparatory conversations, and then reveal them in sync with a live discussion. We can also create animated videos to accompany pre-recorded keynotes, conversations, or presentations.
Captivate a Large Hybrid Audience
Let’s dive a bit more into the myriad ways ImageThink has found to help engage audiences. Assuming a significant portion of your audience will be at home, joining remotely via a 12” laptop screen, it’s crucial that your content be visually stimulating. Zoom fatigue is real and watching an unbroken video feed of a talking head just won’t cut it anymore.
For our clients, ImageThink has developed a variety of alternatives to the talking head and dreaded PowerPoint presentation. Beyond live graphic recording, hand-illustrated custom backgrounds, animated videos or time-lapse illustrations, illustrated likenesses, and pre-rendered illustrations and animations for simulive events.
We’ve written extensively on why visuals are so important for retaining attention and creating memories, but now more than ever, it is important to give attendees something interesting to focus on, fend off distraction, and ensure the content that you and your sponsors worked so hard to create lands.
Memorialize Keynote Presentations & Sponsored Content
How does graphic recording benefit your presenters and sponsors? For starters, it serves to differentiate their presentation from run-of-the-mill slideshows and stale design. Illustration, whether traditional or digital, is more tactile, and engages more of the brain.
There is an element of magic to what a skilled graphic recorder can do, wrangling and organizing key thoughts in real time and utilizing visual metaphor to help speakers make their point. That magic holds peoples’ attention in the moment, but more importantly, it makes the content memorable long after the presentation.
Memorable content leads to engagement and action. It’s all well and good to sponsor the coffee bar or wi-fi at a major event; in person attendees will appreciate those conveniences. But by sponsoring the graphic recording, brands are associated directly with the thought leadership and ideas coming out of the event, and they will continue to be seen every time an ImageThink visual output is shared.
Socialize Thought Leadership
Speaking of socializing, the best way marketing for any event has always been word of mouth. Honest, organic enthusiasm is so valuable because it’s trusted and can’t be bought. Indicative of the excitement that graphic recording generates, ImageThink boards are some of the most shared photos from the events we support. Attendees take photos so they can refer to ideas later on, and to quickly share out resonant concepts.
That’s valuable media real estate, especially when it includes a website, special offer, hashtag, or sponsor’s logo.
With events likely to take place entirely online or to feature an online component for the foreseeable future, users are taking screenshots and sharing images faster than ever before. We encourage our clients to take advantage of that phenomenon. Rather than block screenshots, encourage users to grab and share public content and notes, and to distribute shareable versions of our captures after the fact.
Your Audience is Waiting
For many businesses, the last three months were a sprint find new ways to work and collaborate and to keep the lights on. Now teams are more ready and eager than ever to network, do business, and benefit from the sharing of knowledge they can only get at conferences, conventions, and trade shows.
Hybrid events will look and feel different, but the audience is hungry for them. Moreover, the audience lives all over the world. Without the barrier of travel, accommodation, and food expenses, more people than ever before can and will attend the events that get the transition right.
To talk to someone at ImageThink about how we’re helping clients retool, remap, and reimagine their large-scale events and convenings, schedule a call today, or start a conversation using the chat bar.